The Cape

With Batman locked up by Warner Bros.' feature-film department, NBC's The Cape may be the closest thing we'll get to a Dark Knight TV series in the foreseeable future. And that's just fine by creator Tom Wheeler, who has been a major comic-book geek (mostly Marvel) since he was 5. "There's a lot of inspiration," says Wheeler, who has also woven in elements of his other obsession: magic. "I've always been a big fan of Harry Houdini, escapism and illusion."

All these themes come together to form hunky, masked caped crusader Vince Faraday (ER's David Lyons), who assumes the identity of his son's favorite comic-book hero after being framed for murder. Unlike NBC's last superheroic attempt, Heroes, which milked the life out of baddie Sylar for its entire four-season run, The Cape's fictional Palm City is loaded with a rogue's gallery of colorful supervillains—Chess (James Frain), Scales (Vinnie Jones), Dice (Mena Suvari) — to keep The Cape on his toes.

Helping prepare Faraday for his new life is an underground carnival sideshow led by mentor and keeper of an ancient cape Max Malini (Keith David) and Orwell (Summer Glau), his omnipresent guardian angel of sorts, who charts his every move from her high-tech lair.

Sunday's back-to-back premiere episodes (9/8c) will repeat the next day in the show's regular time slot, Mondays, 9/8c. Up, up and away!

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